Three steps to bring back clarity and meaning to your life.
Bonnie Tsui’s essay “You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything,” was one of the most shared stories from the New York Times in 2019.
To me, this means we’re looking for ways to unwind from our distraction-driven world.
In the essay, Bonnie advises for fallow time, where we rest, read, and reconnect to ourselves.
Unfortunately, nowadays it has become something of a status symbol to be “busy”.
We live in a 24/7 hamster wheel of work, in constant reachability, pressured by the impatient notifications of social media all creating mental stress, physical tensions, and disease.
The story we tell ourselves is:
If you aren’t visibly producing, you aren’t worthy.
But what if there is a way to do less and accomplish more? To increase well-being and health while enjoying work and life?
What I mean by doing nothing is an activity that helps to disconnect from the busyness treadmill.
Going for a walk, reading a light, inspiring book, practicing meditation, or engaging in quiet contemplation.
Instead, we think that glancing at emails, social media or our phone only takes a few seconds and it’s a good way to take a short break.
Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.
But the opposite is true, these distractions waste far more time than we think. We lose our attention and it weakens our ability to think deeply and calmly.
Now, in order to implement enriching doing nothing time successfully, the following three steps will help you to break old thought patterns.
Realize the profoundness of doing nothing
One of the biggest problems of being busy all the time is that we easily forget to monitor and reconsider where we want to go. Our thoughts and emotions get so entangled that we don’t see clearly what we truly want.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. — Lao Tzu
Ryan Holiday put it best:
This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.
Bring back clarity to your life
Doing nothing time, when practiced the right way, can remind us why we chose our work or life path in the first place. Or why we should reconsider what we are currently doing.
Only if we take time off, our minds can become still, and we start seeing clearly again. Then we can consciously take action to move closer to where we want to go.
Implement doing nothing practices
Not only can doing nothing bring in more clarity but it stimulates creativity, focus, and overall health. Here are various powerful examples of doing less.
Take purposeful breaks
Tony Schwartz, the author of The Power of Full Engagement, calls this “pulse and pause.” And, he found that humans tend to move from full focus to fatigue every 90 minutes.
A study by the University of Illinois suggests taking a break once every hour.
Many more studies have looked at the optimal break-schedule.
The results differ slightly. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere between 30 minutes and 90 minutes
If you can stay fully focused for 90 minutes, keep the momentum for as long as you can.
If your thoughts start to wander earlier, it’s better to take a short break. Give your focus-muscle a chance to relax. Just a few minutes later, you’ll come back fresh.
Engage in light exercise
After following 387 women for two decades, researchers at the University of Melbourne found that participants who did some form of movement every day were less likely to suffer memory loss in their 60s and 70s, compared to their sedentary peers.
“It turned out that just any type of physical activity on a daily basis was important for cognition 20 years later,”
Try meditation to bring back clarity
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” ~ Blaise Pascal
Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings.
Just closing my eyes and watching my inner cinema has been the single most powerful practice to take my life to the next level.
When we sit in quiet we are open to incoming data from our higher consciousness centers. When we are bombarded with noise, distraction and overwhelming emotions — such as worry, fear, anxiety, guilt, or shame — we are unable to “hear” this voice of wisdom, and deeper personal insights and understanding come through.
Now, good news!
Ms. Mann’s research has found that daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — “literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.” For that to happen, though, total idleness is required.
Become comfortable doing nothing
Stop feeling guilty about doing less. You’ll see it will be worth it.
Enjoy your breaks, gain back energy and momentum and walk through life joyfully.
In the end, we only have one life. No hustle is worth constant struggling and spending your time on this beautiful planet in misery.
Enjoy your day (doing nothing)